Elbow Injuries in Swimming : Swimming Injuries

What are the causes of elbow injury in swimming?

Many swimmers suffer from elbow injuries due to the force of the arm pull when doing the breast stroke or butterfly stroke. Competitive swimmers use their elbows for the rigorous strokes that they need to perform and use a form of ‘elbow-up pull’ which involves bending the elbow and holding it at a certain angle. Excessive use of the elbow-up pull could result in lateral epicondilytis which is often termed as a ‘tennis elbow’ because athletes find that their elbow becomes stiff and painful. Many competitive swimmers experience some sort of elbow injury either when training or competing in a competition. Repetitive arm movements and repeated movement of the elbows may make the pain worse so athletes should not do excessive training if they have an existing injury.

Symptoms of Elbow Injury

The symptoms from having an elbow pain injury which could be diagnosed as lateral epicondilytis could be that of a pain which slowly increases in intensity around the elbow joints. The pain often becomes worse when shaking hands or when trying to squeeze an object. There is pain in the hands when opening jars or even handling the most light weight objects such as cutlery. The pain often gets worse when the elbow is stabilized and movement of the elbow often causes pain across the arm. The elbow can sometimes develop an inflammation followed by pain in the arms.

Medical Treatment for Elbow Injury

Lateral Epicondilytis cannot be diagnosed from X-rays as it is only diagnosed by the symptoms which you report to your doctor. Cortisone Injections are given as a medical treatment to reduce the pain and inflammation. The type of medical treatment depends upon your circumstances and the doctor will take into account your age, overall health and medical history before giving any type of medication as there are many elbow injuries so the doctor has to be sure of the diagnosis.

Prevention of Elbow Injury

In order to prevent the elbow pain and inflammation from becoming worse it is best to rest the elbow and try to avoid any rigorous activity whereby the elbow will be in constant use. Applying ice to the affected area can soothe the pain and help to bring down any inflammation which is present on the elbow. Over the counter pain killers such as ibuprofen can assist in helping to ease the pain. Cortisone medication may be injected by a doctor if necessary to prevent further inflammation from occurring and bring down any swelling on the elbow. It is always best to use the proper technique whilst swimming and ensure that you are performing the strokes correctly without over doing it. If you are previously recovering from an elbow injury it is best to wait until that injury heals before pursuing any further activity.

An elbow brace or elastic wrap can be worn around the forearm just below the injured elbow which may help to relieve the pain and prevent it from worsening when moving around.

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